Willmar, MN - The last time the RCTC men's basketball team faced off against Ridgewater was back on January 23rd and it took a last second half court buzzer-beater by Naa'il Mahdi for the Jackets to secure the win. Coach LaPlante's Yellowjackets were bound and determined not to need that desperation heave this time around as the downed the Warriors 78-62 in Willmar.
The game was tight through the entire first half as Ridgewater took a 33-32 lead into the break. The second half was a different story, however as the Yellowjacket offense took command pouring in 46 points in the frame leading to the final margin of victory. With the win the Jackets kept their playoff chances alive as they remain in a tie for the fourth and final playoff spot with two games remaining.
RCTC got big performance on the night from Karmoga Lero (19 points), and Ben Opsahl (17 points). The Jackets also got 10 points each from Mahdi, and Eddie Oyet. Kong Kong, had six points and lead the Jackets with 11 rebounds. The Jackets as a team hit at a 50% clip from the field including 7-17 (41%) from beyond the arc.
With the win, RCTC head men's basketball coach Brian LaPlante earned his 450th career victory. Coach LaPlante is now 450-203 in is 23 year career. He has had 57 all-division, 41 all-state, and 17 all-region players in his tenure. 52 Yellowjackets have went on and competed at various four-year institutions in his 22 seasons as head coach. Coach LaPlante was named District 4 Coach of the Year in 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2016. His teams have been to the NJCAA National Tournament six times (2006, fifth place; 2010, national runner-up; 2011, national runner-up; 2013, eighth place; 2015 third place; and 2016, national runner-up). The Yellowjackets have won the MCAC state title in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016 under LaPlante.
RCTC is next in action on Wednesday night, in a must win game for their playoff hopes. The Jackets tip-off against MN State Fergus Falls at 7:30 in the Sports Center